Global Literatures in English

A qwriting.qc.cuny.edu blog

Oscar Wao (Chs. 4-5)

March 30th, 2012 · 14 Comments
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EDIT: Apologies once more on Option #4.  I misremembered the way Oscar’s letter closes the novel–I thought much more of it was in his own voice.  If you’re doing Option #4, focus on either Lola or Yunior, not Oscar.

Comment here for our third reading from Oscar Wao.  This is the section in which you’ll meet our main narrator, Yunior, and watch engage in “Project Oscar,” to try to make the latter fitter and more successful with women.  Answer this–what do you think of Yunior’s mission, in terms of his goals, methods, and attitudes?  Positively?  Negatively?  Why?

Other contemporary American fiction writers (like Diaz):
Phillip Roth (novelist, major works Portnoy’s Complaint and American Pastoral)
Cormac McCarthy (novelist, major works Blood Meridian, The Border Trilogy, and No Country for Old Men)
Don DeLillo (novelist, major works Underworld and Libra)
Marilynne Robinson (fiction writer, major work Housekeeping)
Cynthia Ozick (fiction writer, major work “The Shawl”)
David Eggers (novelist and McSweeney’s editor, major work A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius)
Jonathan Franzen (novelist, major work The Corrections)

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14 responses so far ↓

  • 1    Jamie Rohr // Apr 2, 2012 at 5:48 pm

    I liked Yunior’s no nonsense approach to helping Oscar. He wasnt sugar coating it for his benefit, he was simply being a real friend and saying it as it was. He was tough on him but not in a mean way, almost like tough love. He wasnt babying Oscar, which probably effected him positively.

  • 2    cbergmann // Apr 2, 2012 at 6:50 pm

    I saw Yunior’s mission in mostly a negative light. He outwardly admits to the mission beginning as a way to keep himself housed on campus: “but I was taking care of my own damn self” (170). A few pages later Yunior decides that the reason why Oscar was going through his makeshift boot camp was because “Goes to show you: O really did look up to me” (176). That statement was kind of condescending in my opinion. Yunior through and through came off as a conceded jerk that was only helping Oscar because he was conveniently there. I said I viewed his mission in a mostly negative light because by the end of the chapter I do believe it turned into one of those typical narratives: the type where people start off something with ill intent, but by the end truly care about their mission. By the end of his chapter Yunior moved back in with Oscar because, I think, he truly cared.

  • 3    nmulet // Apr 3, 2012 at 3:29 am

    I have several thoughts on Yunior’s mission. First, it’s nice that he was trying to help Oscar. But I think he was only helping him because he was bored, sick of Oscar complaining and being so pathetic, and it’s easier to fix other people’s problems than your own. I was surprised Oscar even went along with it, but not surprised he gave up. I don’t think he was too harsh on Oscar, sometimes you need enough drive for both people; much like the trainer Jillian on Biggest Loser. I think he should’ve pushed Oscar more before giving up on him, but at the same time, the person has to be at least a little willing to cooperate. Overall, I think the mission was good attempt, albeit a failed one, but at least he genuinely tried to help O.

  • 4    seanlevine // Apr 3, 2012 at 4:11 pm

    I think Yunior approached “Project Oscar” with a good will.
    However the attempt ultimately failed because Oscar himself
    was really only willing to go so far, serving to prove some
    truth in the adage “you cannot help those who aren’t willing
    to help themselves.” Sure, maybe Yunior was a little abrasive
    in his approach, especially in the scene where the agreement
    eventually fell apart and they reverted back to what was the
    expected norm concerning the details of the relationship, reverting it to a shape and form which existed before Yunior moved into Demarest. I think he could of been more cognisant of exaclty how hard the whole process was
    for Oscar, especially in light of the verbal ridicule he was
    exposed to while running, which made something which was extraordinarily hard for him tip past the point of bearability. Perhaps attacking the weight issue
    in such an exposed manner wasn’t the most tactful way to approach such a deeply seated issue with Oscar, which in light of its emotionally loaded nature should of been tacked as the ulterior issue, and the first matter of business should of been jointly focused on Oscars lack of confidence;
    ex. find him a mainstream hobby which would help him branch out of his social circle. Which leads to the conclusion that Yunior is obviously the kind of guy who can “get things done.”, however he isn’t one who aware of the ramifications of his actions. Meaning he’s someone isn’t tuned to the emotional subtleties of others, and who isn’t willing to change anything about himself past a certain extent whereas Oscar simply isn’t able to change; atleast to this point.

  • 5    azaharopoulos // Apr 3, 2012 at 5:26 pm

    I agree with my peers and see the relationship between Oscar and Yunior as positive. The problem is that Oscar was at the point were he needed professional help and counseling. Yunior acting as a personal trainer emphasized Oscars physical appearence when he should have nurtured his mental state as well. In theory Yunior was being helpful with an agenda. He wanted to get in good with Lola so its not completely sincere and thats why he quit on Oscar. This might be corny but friends are friends when the shit is the worst. Oscar was a lot to handle but sometimes certain situations need kid gloves.

  • 6    Erika // Apr 3, 2012 at 5:28 pm

    I agree also. The relationship is definitely positive for Oscar. But I also think the approach should have been more holistic. But maybe he was just blinded by Lola and so he went only as far as he needed to get in good with her…

  • 7    hernandez // Apr 3, 2012 at 5:46 pm

    Chapter 4 made me laugh the whole time. The way Yunior approached the “Oscar Redemption Program”. Like one of my classmates said his approach was definitely tough love. But I’m also why is it considered tough love because he would curse at him and not give up on O. I’m stuck between tough love and Yunior as someone who didn’t want to be apart of someone just giving up on themselves health wise. I may be wrong but I liked Juniors approach only because Oscar was definitely being negative the whole time and Yunior didn’t give up. Than again Yunior can be considered a bit impulsive in my eyes. I feel like he could have gradually helped O n not expect O to be so happy go lucky from the start.

  • 8    Zasha Lucas // Apr 3, 2012 at 6:05 pm

    I think Yunior’s mission was a positive one even though it backfired on Yunior but that was Oscar’s fault for not wanting to try anymore. Yunior did not have to do this for Oscar he only did it really because of Lola and that idea of the “Dominican man”. I also agree with my classmates about the “tough love” sometimes people tend to want to give up and they really need that push to keep going and reach their goals.

  • 9    mhealy101 // Apr 3, 2012 at 7:11 pm

    I think Yunior’s intentions were good. I do think he genuinely wanted to help Oscar out but as we know that didn’t turn out too well. I think Yunior did what anyone would do in that situation. If you see somebody in despair you are going to want to help them. it was nice to see Oscar achieving those goals that Yunior set out for him in the beginning but then again it doesn’t surprise me that he had given up.

  • 10    GordonWTam // Apr 3, 2012 at 7:13 pm

    Another case of the line between negative and positive. If we weigh out the aspects of what Yunior is doing and why, I think it bends over a bit into a positive light. While Yunior is doing this mostly for ulterior motives, we are also treated to knowing what kind of person Oscar is (and has been). He probably needs this just as much as Yunior. I think mission this can be viewed as a positive.

  • 11    khaff88 // Apr 3, 2012 at 7:26 pm

    I think Yunior’s intentions in the beginning were negative only because he decided to help out Oscar after he got caught cheating an he was bored. Of course Yunior ends up really caring about Oscar’s improvement and is angry when Oscar wants to give up. I feel as though Yunior’s actions may have been the push to Oscar’s suicide attempt. If Yunior had not put interest in Oscar like that he never would have attempted to talk to Jenni the way he did or drink like he did (the alcohol was a gift from Yunior). I’m not saying that Yunior is the only reason for Oscar’s depression but him being exposed to a new social environment may have made him more vulnerable than before.

  • 12    javeriasid // Apr 3, 2012 at 7:42 pm

    I believe Yunior’s mission was both positive and negative. Positive in the sense that he took charge and told Oscar how it is. He didnt take any bull shit from Oscar. But his approach was not good, he obviously had alterior motives and when Oscar gave up he left him and hindered Oscar’s relationship with Lola.

  • 13    andycrazn // Apr 3, 2012 at 7:49 pm

    Yuniors mission reminds me of my friend. He has a very harsh way of trying to bring out the alpha male out of someone. It comes off as harsh because of the tone and the way he approaches it. Kinda like Lolas advice x2. Oscars failure is because he still doesnt want to man up and go a long with things and some of the stuff wouldnt make any sense because thats how dating is.

  • 14    hamidah // Apr 3, 2012 at 8:00 pm

    I think that Yunior did not know what his real intentions were. He just try to occupy himself with what was in front of him. Without knowing how he really felt like, he tried to help Oscar out. When they fought Yunior didn’t know if it was because Oscar defied him or because he gave up on himself. This shows that even though he had confused emotions, he still wanted to help Oscar. So in a way, what Yunior was doing was not that bad.

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